Overcoming Obstacles and Turning Losses into Wins: Four Things to Consider
So your athletic season is beginning with a few lost games in a row. Or what started out as a winning season is now pulling back, and as your lead slips away, your team plays more defensively and your confidence erodes.
Maybe you started the spring with plans to lose weight, serious plans backed by a trusted coach, nutritionist, or trainer. And now your progress is starting to level off. Your motivation to exercise sputters each time you step on the scale and see minimal changes. Maybe you just spent an entire week working harder than you ever have in your life, and by the end of the week you actually gained a pound or two.
No matter what you’re trying to get your body to do, the road to physical victory is paved with bumps, steep hills, surprises and sudden turns. The body is strange thing, and despite thousands of years of accumulated knowledge, we still don’t always know exactly why it does some of the things it does. Why does your friend’s body look similar to yours in size and shape, and yet she can run a marathon and you can hardly run up a flight of stairs? Why do some bodies respond so much faster to training than others? Why do bigger players sometimes lose to smaller ones? These answers aren’t always clear, but overcoming obstacles to success depends on our ability to maintain our inspiration, keep our goals in sight when the going gets rough, and recognize when it’s time to change or abandon plans that aren’t working.
If you’re facing a steep set of challenges and trying to maintain your motivation to exercise despite setbacks, here are a few considerations to keep in mind.
1. Overcoming Obstacles: Respect
See yourself as the animal that you are. You are the keeper and trainer of your body, so treat your body as you would an animal in your care. Be respectful and accepting of its unique and mysterious nature. Be kind, but firm. Be clear about what you want it to do. Feed it the food that will nourish it and keep it healthy, not just the food that it wants. And take full responsibility for its well-being. Athletes sometimes work hard all day long on the field, pushing and training and perfecting their technique. But when it’s time to go to bed, they undo hours of hard work by not going to sleep until midnight and then getting up at five am. The body is complex, not simple. If you want it to dance to your tune, you have to be willing to give as well as take. Overcoming obstacles and getting back a winning season often begin with respect. Respect your body and it will perform. Respect your team and they’ll respect you. And when that happens, the inspiration you lost will start to come back.
2. Inspiration: Know When to Give Up
It would be great if “Never give up!” applied to every tricky or discouraging situation in our lives. If we could just keep hammering away at challenges relentlessly, overcoming obstacles by sheer stubborn willpower and letting tenacity save us when strategy, luck, and common sense all fail. But sometimes giving up after a lost game or failed diet is not only acceptable, but vital to our success and well-being.
The secret lies in recognizing when enough is enough. Try your plan until it fails. Then try it again a few more times. Then stop. Make a change. Find a new route around your road block. It’s better to be flexible and resilient like a blade of grass then stubborn like the trunk of a tree. Trees blow over in the wind. But grass bends and stands back up again.
3. Overcoming Obstacles: Perspective
A lost game is short, but a winning season is long. A year is short, but a lifetime is very long. Finding inspiration and overcoming obstacles begin with knowing what’s at stake, and knowing what’s at stake starts with perspective.
If you’re coaching a little league team, what are you doing? Sure, you’re trying to have a winning season, but that’s only in the moment. What are you doing over the long term? What lessons do you want your team to take away? What memories do you want them to make and what kinds of relationships do you want to encourage among each of them, their parents, yourself and your community? If you’re aware of the big picture, your awareness will come through in everything you say as you coach your team. They’ll hear it in your voice, no matter how young they are. And your respect for the big picture will cut through the gloom of one lost game.
The same applies if you’re coaching adults, supporting a friend through physical therapy, or overcoming obstacles of your own. Whether you’re winning back a lost championship, slimming down, improving your performance, or learning a new skill, keep the long view in mind. Never get so lost in the moment that you lose sight of the day, the season, or the year.
4. Learn From Everything that Happens to You
Every lost game comes with important lessons. Some lessons are more expensive than others, but often the price of a lesson is directly connected to its value. To get back a winning season or recover your lost motivation to exercise, it’s a good idea to view every discouraging moment as a source of new information and insight. Don’t be afraid to take a close look at your roughest moments and mine them for anything that might help you as you move forward. If you just brush them off or pretend they didn’t happen, you might have to live through them again a few more times. Instead, be brave and search for inspiration and encouragement in every one of your setbacks, even the painful ones. Every failure is a gift, and each might contain the secret to overcoming obstacles similar to these in the future.